ferent contexts, from soccer fields in Santa Ana to green carts in New York City. Ongoing engagement of neighborhoods and residents strengthens leadership and power within communities, which in turn helps create and sustain change.
As Marion Standish, Director of Healthy Environments for the California Endowment, observed in her opening remarks, community experience is part of the overall effort to understand what does and does not work, and how well it works, in combating obesity. Despite the power of community experience, researchers and policy experts have found it difficult, according to Standish, “to articulate the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of that experience and how it should inform and influence our work.” The Endowment supported this workshop, she said, to detail community experiences and better use those experiences to inform policy and research and build a body of evidence.
“Often we think we have a good policy. It passes, but it doesn’t work in a community. The value of community eyes and community voices … is an immeasurable asset in the work that we do.”
Loel Solomon, National Director of Community Health Initiatives and Evaluation for Kaiser Permanente, reminded workshop participants and audience members of the statement of Goethe often cited in IOM publications: “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” Those words, he said, set the stage for the workshop. Credible evidence is essential, but “what we really are about,” he said, “is changing our environments, changing our communities so people are healthier.” He described a complementary IOM study cofunded by Kaiser Permanente to develop a framework for how evidence on obesity prevention is developed and translated into action (A Framework for Decision-Making for Obesity Prevention: Integrating Action with Evidence). Planning for that study affirmed that end users’ perspectives are vital because the social context for decision making is larger than the development of credible evidence. Solomon described a challenge presented to the steering committee for the framework to “reinvent” the abbreviation RCT (which traditionally stands for “randomized controlled trial”), with R standing for “relevant,” C for “communicate,” and T for “timely.” These three attributes, as much as the rigor of a study’s design, are what communities and policy makers take into account in their obesity prevention efforts.
As demonstrated in projects funded by The California Endowment, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, and others,